Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Amendment X - a Call to...???

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."

The all limiting, all encompassing liberty amendment. It is the one amendment that has the power to tear down a leviathan and return freedom to the states and people.

But what was the purpose of explicitly limiting the powers of a federal government to those documented in the Constitution, and no others?

Here is a great History Lesson from the Tenth Amendment Center:
Throughout the period of the Continental and Confederation Congresses (1776-1788), advocates of a strong central government argued that, in addition to whatever express powers Congress had received from the states, Congress also enjoyed additional “inherent sovereign authority.” This theory would allow Congress to exercise many powers not on the list granted by the Articles of Confederation.

During this period, the “inherent sovereign authority” argument was made by John Adams, Benjamin Rush, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and the Hartford Convention of 1780. They argued that Congress necessarily had inherent sovereign authority because it was America’s agent for foreign affairs. They sometimes argued that the British Crown conveyed inherent sovereign authority to Congress by the 1783 peace treaty recognizing independence.

The best-known exposition of inherent sovereign authority appeared in James Wilson’s Considerations on the Bank of North America. Wilson’s purpose in composing this paper was to justify Congress’s decision to charter a national bank, even though the Articles of Confederation had given Congress no such power.

Opponents of the Constitution admitted that the Constitution enumerated federal powers, but they feared that Wilson & Company might raise the same “inherent sovereign authority” claim again. Accordingly, most of the states demanded a constitutional amendment explicitly limiting the federal government to those enumerated in the Constitution. That amendment became the Tenth.

What is particularly surprising in light of this history and the Tenth Amendment’s explicit wording, is that some people still argued that the federal government had a vast reservoir of “inherent sovereign authority.”

The subject came up in a 1907 case (Kansas v. Colorado), but the Supreme Court rejected the idea, citing the Tenth Amendment. But the Court used the theory in a 1936 (U.S. v. Curtiss-Wright) to justify federal foreign affairs powers. And a majority of the court seems to have endorsed it in a 2004 case (U.S. v. Lara) explaining federal power over the Indian tribes.

But as a matter of history and constitutional text, there is no real doubt that the Tenth Amendment rendered the theory of “implied sovereign authority” completely illegitimate.

If this is the case, and the argument of "implied sovereign authority" is moot, then the President of the United States and the members of Congress have no authority to dictate banking and housing bailouts, mandatory healthcare, cash for clunkers, or any other "program" that excessively burdens my explicit right of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness... and therefore the actions of the Federal Government are in violation of the contract between the Federal Government and the People, commonly known as being Un-Constitutional.

Of course, the US Government operates under the premise of "Sovereign Immunity" which means that unless they explicitly waive their immunity, explicitly allowing a suit to be taken, then a citizen cannot take suit against the Government.

The federal government has become an authoritarian dictatorial body, with no means for checks and balances accountable to the people. Elections are hardly tools for change, rather merely opinions of the consumers. No real element of change comes, especially in the way of returning the Federal Government to its Constitutional bounds.

So I pose a question, what power is left to the citizen, aside from petitioning the state for redress of grievances?


  1. There's little doubt that the framers of the Bill of Rights feared - rightly - an authoritarian central government. The States may sidestep the issue entirely by refusing to cooperate, up to & including mass secession by a group of states acting together.

    If the beast won't back down, you starve it.

  2. I agree that liberties are being lost. I would also point out that we have been loosing them for the last decade.

  3. X-tra: It has been much longer than the last decade. I understand that you are pointing out that the Bush presidency was not perfect, but regular reading of this blog would reveal that I was no fan of the Bush administration when it came to encroaching on liberty.

    Paul: I completely agree... it is unfortunate that the people are powerless to act against the federal beast... so the battle must be taken to the states, to change the political attitude toward federal authority over state's concerns. There should be more outrage from the states, but it seems that they are all benine at this point and foolishly lining up for their chance to grab a hand-out. A shame... we are a mere shadow of the greatness we once were - liberty, that is!

  4. Steven, fir all intints 'n pirposes, the 10th Amendment is virtually ignored by th' Fed'ruls. Thar have been a few recent SCOTUS cases-att threw th' states a bone or two under a 10th-Amendment analysees, but them cases haven't come close t' really given th' 10th its due.

    I suppose one cud say that th' amendment became moot after Lincoln's illegal war and th' Reconstruction Amendments-att follered, 'n thar-after whin th' Fed'ruls consolidated even more bunches of power under th' succeeding administrations of various American strongmen (such as FDR).

    One cud argue that th' seeds of centralization were sown in th' constitution of 1789; that despite the best intentions of ever'one, but especially th' intentions of th' Antifederalists (may they name be blessed forever), th' old federalist balaince jus' cudn't be maintained. Hence th' title of an excellent article from the von Mises site: "The Antifederalists Were Right":


    In essaince, th' Federalists - who were succeeded by th' Whigs, then th' Republicans (and now by statist Democrats, who are merely the more librul mirror image of th' GOP) - have become ururpers of th' constitutional order th' Founders 'n Framers wanted t' pass down t' us. I suspect even th' Federalists of th' late 18th century wud be aghast at seein' what DC has become, 'n they wud repent in sackcloth 'n aishes. (Or maybe not. As th' article you cite suggests, they were pretty durn ambitious fir a big ole' nashnul gummint.)

    "So I pose a question, what power is left to the citizen, aside from petitioning the state for redress of grievances?"

    That is th' question, to be sure. I'll give ye 'n yir readers my suggestions, n' y'all can do with 'em wut ye will:

    The great object is to secede. Now, by that I don't mean solely wut th' Confed'rates of old mint. Secession starts with the individual, and his or her MENTAL and PHILOSOFICAL OUTLOOK, 'n thin moves out concentrikly t' other applications, one of which may 'ventually be actual secession from th' Fed'rul union, if'n God so wills. See my blog entry below, 'n click th' links re: the various types of secession -


    So, we start with individual resolve to "opt out, get libertarian, and fly the flag of a different place and time, like the Bonnie Blue or th' Gadsden", t' quote ol' Caedmon. Fir me, that takes certain forms, such as I dohn't fly "Old Gory" anymore, nor do I say the Pledge of Allegience. I fly my state flag, I fly my Bonnie Blue, and occasionally I fly the Confederate First National and Navy Jack. Ohn at ol' Pledge, read this:


    I have also resolved not t' obey any irrational or unconstitutional laws. Now, thar are certain bad laws I grudgin'ly obey for th' present just t' avoid gittin' thrown in th' pokey, but all-iss is with th' goal in mind of undoin' 'em laws 'ventually. But if'n, say, th' gummint passes a gun registation law, I ain't obeyin' it. And I will be joined by millions 'pohn millions-a gun owners.

  5. (Continued)

    Movin' out concentrikly, I band tigether with men like yirseff who are kindred spirits, creatin' community with 'em in cyberspace 'n real space. Internet's heppin' us t' find each other, which is why tyrants hate it.

    Thin, we organize. We do political activism and we blog. Yes, we petition th' state for redress of greivances. Yes, we show up metaphorikly with pitchforks 'n torches at health care town halls. But that ain't all.

    As ye know, I am a proud member of The League of the South. And us League folk are now in league with other secessionist organizations, includin' lib'rul lefty ones such as th' Second Vermont Republic 'n th' Middlebury Institute. We git together yearly with 'em folks t' tawk and plan strategy.

    But wut's more, all-ese groups takin' concrete steps t' seprate theysevves, degree by degree, from Rome ohn th' Potomac. In th' case of th' Southern secessionists, thar is somethin' now called th' Southern National Congress, which is th' first steps to create a rival gummint of sorts, duplicatin' in certain respects wut happened when th' Revolutionary Generashun started throwin' off th' yoke of th' royal colonial gummints t' become independent republics.

    Lotta folks consider the SNC t' be a bunch of extremist tomfoolery, but th' reason it's important is-att we gotta show th' existin' gummints our resolve not t' be ruled by states-att have lost they "legitimacy", as they've become mere administrative units of th' Fed'rul gummint. We git ignored 'n laffed at, a-course, but we jus' remember wut ol' Gandhi sed: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

    See, we thank we stand t' gain more 'n more popular support as th' old, corrupt regime starts t' go under, 'n I thank we're already seein' th' populist uprisin' many paleocons have been hopin' for. That uprisin' exists in th' forms of the Tea Party Movemint, the 10th Amendment Movemeit, 'n even th' Secession Movemint. Th' stars seem t' be alignin', 'n it give me great cause fir hope. Th' people are as mad as hell, 'n they ain't a-gohnna take it much longer.

    So, begin with a paradigm shift in yir own hed: resolve to be *FREE*, 'n no longer subjict t' th' American Leviathan. Thin move out from there, keepin' all options on th' table.

    'Att's wut ol' Jones thanks.

  6. Jonesie - Well said! That is the response I was lookin' for! Of course, you know I agree 100% with your answer, but it is ever important to ask the question to get others to ponder and come to the same conclusion!

    Again, thanks for reading and thanks for commenting! Your insight is unique and respected on this site!